Thankful for Healing

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for the healing in my body this year.  The year isn’t over, nor is the healing, but it’s still something to be thankful for!

I’m at a touch over 3 months post spinal fusion.  My spine is held together by 6 screws and 3 rods, plus cages in the disk space between vertebrae L4-L5, and L5-S1.  Oh, and bone matter.  The goal is that everything will be held together by solid bone, and the titanium of course.  I will see my surgeon again next week, and expect a good report from him.

I’ve been in physical therapy for 6 weeks now.  Danielle is finally back, and she has been working me hard!  We have a couple areas of focus:  my hips and pelvis, and my upper back.  She wants increased movement and flexibility in my upper spine so I’m doing a lot of stretching and rotation work in my shoulders and upper rib cage, rotating from the bottom of my rib cage to look over my shoulders, and reach across my chest.   My hips and glutes are working as well to give me stability in my pelvis to support my sacrum and low back.  During my PT sessions, Danielle has me working on the Pilates reformer – doing a lot of squats in various positions to work specific muscles both in my hips and glutes, but also in my lower abs.  We are working on the flexibility of my low back (those muscles got VERY tight after surgery) while keeping my spine itself in a neutral position, but also stretching my hamstrings and hips.  Everything has been very tight because of years of chronic pain and moving in “defensive and protective” mode.  So I’m doing lots of stretches each day, as well as muscle building activities.  Danielle has also been working on helping the nerves to heal by loosening their paths as well as stretching them.  I have a series of “neural flossing” stretches and movements that are working like a charm.  Nerves heal so slowly, but I am noticing changes in my symptoms, so I know what I’m doing is helping!  Also, Danielle has been great about helping me modify and get comfortable in different yoga poses to help me get back into regular routines.  Best of all, she’s given me confidence to start really pushing my healing forward.

I’ve kind of turned the corner from being in a very protective healing mode and being extremely careful, almost fearful, about doing something to put my surgery in jeopardy – to pushing hard and moving much more.  My stamina is increasing, both muscular and cardio.  I can walk comfortably for a lot longer – it’s not just one slow gentle walk to the driveway, but 3 trips back and forth at a quick pace.  I’m noticing more muscle strength in the muscle groups we’ve been working on, but still need to focus on really engaging the RIGHT muscles to do the exercises, not what my body has been compensating with for years.  I laughed when Danielle said I have some really bossy muscles that need to take a back seat to the ones who are supposed to be working.  I won’t see her next week, but I will continue with my home exercises and yoga practices for hip and sacrum stability.  I have scheduled once a week check ins with her through the end of the year.  I’m doing much better – but I’m not “back to normal” yet, so therapy with guided exercises will help me get there.  Re-training muscles is hard work, in case you were wondering!

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year, but I really am thankful for the body God gave me and how resilient it is.  I pray you each have blessings abounding that you are also giving thanks for.

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Planning ahead

I’m a planner, organizer, map-maker, scheduler, problem solver, detail oriented kind of person.  Give me a situation, and I’ll figure a way through it.   I’m not afraid to ask for help and input, but it’s all part of the strategy to get to the finish line.  And boy, howdy, do I have some things on my plate right now I’m working through!

Coming up in just a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Seattle for an MRKH Conference.  I’ll be gone for a few days, so I’m working on the plans to get everything done at home in my absence, coordinating with other MRKH sisters who will be attending, securing my air mattress plans with Helen, and working out activity schedules for the touristy day I’ll spend with friends.  Planning out a day with friends involves everything from outlining itineraries, ferry schedules, and parking options, to places to eat, things to see, time to rest and sleep!  While I have been to several MRKH meet ups, lunches and dinners and fun times with MRKH sisters, I haven’t been to an organized conference before…so this is somewhat new territory for me.  But I’m super excited, because some of my closest MRKH sisters will be attending too – ones I haven’t actually met in person yet, so I’m excited to be hugging their necks for the first time very soon!

Also, happening right now in my life…my in-laws are moving to Idaho from out of state.  More specifically, they are moving IN with us temporarily. Over the past couple of months they have been making trips up here with their “stuff”.  Some has been unloaded and put in storage in our barn and other storage sheds and trailers – and some has just been parked on our property.  My driveway is starting to get complicated with all the trailers and other vehicles things parked along the edges! Let’s just hope that no one has to leave in a big fat hurry…or they might just back into something!  This week marks their final big load of belongings coming up to be stored before their current house closes and they make the final trek up to Idaho.  They are in the process of buying a place up here in Idaho that has been in the same family since the 1800’s.  The seller has run into a little snag with deed transfer a couple of generations back, so they are working to resolve that little hiccup, but we hope to have it all sorted out by the end of the week – or at least a plan and timeline to get it resolved.  Once the sale is complete, then my in-laws will be completely updating and remodeling the house before moving in.  In the mean time…my little house is going to be bursting at the seams!  I’ve been busily trying to de-clutter and make a bit of room in the spare room so they don’t feel quite so claustrophobic in there!  I’ve taken a few loads of things to the thrift store already,  but I’m guessing there will be another load or two before the end of the month.  It’s a good reason to purge the stuff I’ve just been storing for the past 20 years!

It’s summer time here of course – but that means at my job the students are mostly gone.  It’s a time when I can get caught up on projects, tie up loose ends, and prepare for the students to return in August.  We do lots of planning ahead in my job anyway, often we are thinking about our needs 2 semesters from now!  I plan out and strategize on a yearly calendar…and I’ve already got my 2018 calendar drafted out!  I’ve been doing lots of document updates, list corrections, and follow up tasks scheduled as the semester gets closer and closer each day.  We will be ready to literally hit the ground running when the students get back in less than a month! Eeeek!

When I return from Seattle, I’ll be spending some much needed time in the soap room, organizing and preparing for some fall craft shows.  I need to make a few more batches of soap, but first I need to trim and store the ones that have been drying for a couple of months now so I have shelf space!  I also have to get busy and plan to spend some time canning tomatoes!  I buy lovely organic tomatoes at the farmers market every year and do a years worth of canning in August and September every year.  I love the look of a full pantry!!!  And while the long hot days of canning seem exhausting – having them the rest of the year is well worth the time spent!  And I bet my mother-in-law will be anxious to help in the process this year too!  Blanche, peel, pack and repeat!  I usually do whole tomatoes, Italian stewed tomatoes, plain tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, and pizza sauce…I know, it sounds like a ton of work – and it is….but the reward is priceless.

Our women’s ministry group at church is always busy planning something.  We are getting ready to launch our latest service project of creating baby boxes for local women’s shelters and food banks.  We meet once a month for a Ladies Night In to visit, plan, do some bible study, and just spend time in fellowship.  I’m co-hostessing our August get together, and we’re planning a tea party!  It should be great fun, and the perfect way to wrap up our mid-summer before school starts back up.

So what are you planning these days? What are your favorite resources when you are planning an event or project?


Spring is a busy time of year in my world, and so there are lots of potential stressers that rear their ugly heads.  Whether it is in my work life, my home life, my farm life, my business life…when spring rolls around, my stress notches up.  And let’s face it, most of us don’t do “stress” well.  Spring is the season for renewal, rebirth, life starting back up again after a cold dark winter.  It should be bright, happy, clean and fresh…but often, that’s not the case either.  Spring on the farm is mud.  Beneath the melting mountains of snow is several months worth of:

  • trash the dog has scattered
  • broken branches from trees
  • poop – lots of poop!
    • Dogs
    • Ducks
    • Goats
  • mud

And it all gets tracked into the house right?  But let’s talk about the house for minute, too.  We burn wood for heat – it’s the only heat in our home.  We don’t have a furnace, we don’t have baseboards, we have a stove…that burns wood and heats out house quite well….but wood heat is MESSY.  First, you have to haul it in from the woodshed, so you track in snow, mud, and muck.  Then you drop the arm load of firewood – and you get bark, splinters, leaves, dirt, and pitch.  Then, you open up the stove and a cough of ash comes out…  Wood heat is messy heat, but it’s still hard to beat!  We have fans that run 24 hours a day to circulate the heat from the wood stove, but that also means that any lingering smoke and ash gets blown through the whole house.  And we have indoor dogs and cats…so there is hair everywhere, and cat boxes, and muddy dog foot prints – my house is a mess!  And I’m not great neat freak…nor is my husband.  We are both busy and tend to walk in the door and dump whatever is in our hands on the nearest flat surface…so we have clutter…in a small house, with furry friends who aren’t neat freaks either.  I try and make time to sweep up the dog hair, vacuum the hallway and bedroom, and gather up the recycling every week – but it doesn’t always get done….laundry and dishes take priority….usually.  I don’t make the bed when I get up – because it’s usually still occupied.  I scrub up the basics in the bathroom every couple of weeks – and do a thorough clean when I know company is coming.  I keep up on the laundry in the hamper, because if it overflows the cat pees on it.  I do the dishes every couple of days, and when I run out of counter space because the clutter is encroaching….then I spend the time and do a deeper clean and declutter.  My home is well loved, and lived in.  We rarely have visitors, since most of our life happens away from our house – so we don’t spend much any time making sure we are ready for a better homes and gardens photo shoot.  Now, don’t freak out on me…we aren’t candidates for a spot on Hoarding, buried alive…I take my trash out when it’s stinky or on trash day.  There are clean dishes put away in the cupboards, and I wipe down my food prep areas with clorox on a regular basis – but I don’t bother to dust, and I don’t wipe my stove down after every meal.  There is probably a half empty coffee cup somewhere in the house, and there may be a plate or bowl on the floor the dog licked off.  My mirror has toothpaste splatter, and the floor needs to be swept.

But here’s the thing…I’m obsessive about food safety – keeping things refrigerated, eat your leftovers within 3 days, bleach after raw meat, and keeping surfaces that touch food very clean.  Especially if I’m cooking for other people!  And if I’m doing any sort of bath & body production work (making soap, lotion, lip balm or whatever) you can bet that my work area is SPOTLESS – decluttered, scrubbed up, wiped down with bleach  – everything to ensure that there is no “organic contamination”.

Sheesh…see, here in lies the problem…I have the tendency to OBSESS about things.  Maybe overthink things is a better term…or not.  Or maybe it’s both things…but I get into a cycle of thinking of one thing that is bothering me…pretty soon I’m unable to concentrate on any ONE thing because there are 47 other things I’m thinking about too!

In the past couple of years, I have learned to manage my runaway freight train of thoughts by writing.  Writing helps me find the answers that are in clear sight if I would just open my eyes.  But I can’t…because I’m too obsessed with the micro thoughts.  Just ask Chel…I am out of control when I need to write for clarity.  I told her a week ago I felt the need to write about obsessions, and confessed to her again this morning that I still hadn’t done it….and my world is just kind of spiraling into the chaos vacuum right now.  Her advice to me…Write your obsessions! then organize them if need be….AFTER you get them down.  Right…I gotta Write….

So…things I’m obsessing about in no particular order:  flooding, mud, barn cleaning, flood clean up, hay, broken branches, recycling, oil changes, clean sheets, clean eating, chocolate, coffee, bills, book keeping, craft shows, tablecloths, lip balm, beeswax, lotion containers, nitrogen tank, a new couch, a new mattress, new pillows, vegetables, breakfast options, hemming pants, dresses, shoes that go with dresses, recall training, JESUS, time with girlfriends, time to read, pedicures, spa days, upcoming meetings, taxes, end of semester paperwork, edTPA scores, MRKH conferences, making soap, reunions, relationships, humility, pridefulness, devotionals, love notes, being a mentor, and bread.

Ok…let’s see if I can make some sense out of that:  Lot’s of spring cleaning types of things – making time and taking the time to do them.  These are things I have to either have cooperation and help from the hubs to get done, or I just need to tell him “today I’m staying home to do this:______”.  I know I can also spend a little time each evening before it gets dark to do some of it.

Craft show stress – it’s an anxiety thing, do I have enough product, will I remember everything, etc.  What tends to happen is I get to the day of and realize there is no more time, and it is what it is…take a deep breath and just do it.  (probably good advice for everything…)

Work stress – that mellows itself out as I work through projects and deadlines – so again just take a deep breath and let it go.

Self care – this one is harder for me – but when I’m “on point” with it, all the other stuff seems to take care of itself.  I work best on the self care things when I have a plan.  When I don’t have a plan, I tend to grab whatever is in front of me in that moment….and I use food as a balm for my stressed out emotional self.    But that just starts a downward spiral of negativity and self pity.  I need to work to find the balance and think through a plan that I can and will stick to.  A balance of healthy eating, and healthy spirit too.

As I’ve been obsessing about writing this post for the past week, and trying to determine what direction I wanted to take it, I’ve purposely taken some time to think about options on those big stress categories and what direction I want to go.  I’ve got a few CDs that I cycle through during my commute, and right now a couple of contemporary Christian CDs are in the mix.  I couple of lyrics have really struck a cord with me this past week, and I’m trying to put them into practice a bit more.

This lyric is from Breathe by Jonny Diaz:

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

And then this one from Rest by Matthew West:

Rest in the light of My grace
You can rest here while I put all your pieces back in place
Just come unto Me all who are weary and I will give you rest
Shut out the world
Be still and know
That I am Your God
And I won’t let you go

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (or me) to allow you to see that the message I CLEARLY need to hear is to just relax, breathe, and trust that God has a plan, and I should trust the plan.  (you can roll your eyes here…I certainly did!)  Recently I also saw a Facebook meme that read, “When you think you are hitting rock bottom, you are just landing in the palm of God’s hand.”  Ok…and now the song we sing each week as we collect the offering – (which is also playing RIGHT NOW on my Pandora) –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

For the things on earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor and timing – and perfect delivery???  Have a blessed and peaceful week friends!